IOWA CITY — Quite simply, Eli Dunne laid an egg two weeks ago in Montana.
The performance cost him a start in a game most Iowa kids dream about playing.
Dunne, Northern Iowa’s senior quarterback did not hang his head and give up.
After watching fellow senior Colton Howell get the start in UNI’s 38-14 loss to Iowa Saturday, Dunne showed why Panther head coach Mark Farley believes in him.
Howell struggled to a 3-for-10, 22-yard, one interception performance in the first half. Dunne came on in the second half and made throw after throw, leading the Panthers to a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns while completing 18 of 28 passes for 200 yards.
“Eli will start next week,” Farley said. “I’m pleased with everything from him, especially with an Iowa kid playing at the University of Iowa. I’m sure it was a blow to him personally, but I thought he handled it tremendously.”
Dunne completed just 5 of 20 passes for 24 yards against Montana two weeks ago and was benched in favor of Howell, who led UNI back from a 26-0 halftime deficit and nearly helped the Panthers prevail before they fell 26-23.
Dunne knew his performance may have cost him some playing time. But he also knew his time as a UNI quarterback wasn’t over, either.
“Montana two weeks ago I didn’t play well,” Dunne said. “Colton came out there and played well. I understand switching out quarterbacks and getting them in there. I understand that.
“I knew when I got pulled at Montana my time wasn’t over. I’m a competitor and my teammates still have my back, my coaches still have my back. They told me that there could be another opportunity in there for me and I just kept competing during practice.”
Dunne fired touchdown passes of four yards to tight end Briley Moore and five yards to tight end Elias Nissen, and probably his best throw of the night was a 40-yard dime to Jalen Rima that carried just over the Iowa defender and into Rima’s arms just before he went out of bounds.